London’s FTSE 100 recovered some of the heavy ground lost yesterday, rising a modest 11.3 points to 7,423.3 early on Tuesday, although markets are likely to be in a holding pattern until there is greater clarity on how and when the coronavirus can be contained.
Recently in the doldrums following a savage profit warning last summer, IRN-BRU-to-Rubicon maker A.G. Barr (BAG) fizzed 14.7% higher to 624p after indicating that adjusted pre-tax profit for the year ended 25 January 2020 will be at the top end of consensus expectations, ‘just ahead of £37m’, reflecting improved pricing and IRN-BRU’s return to growth over Christmas.
Over-50s insurer Saga (SAGA) sparked up 5% to 43.8p after new chief executive officer (CEO) Euan Sutherland assured the market that full year underlying pre-tax profit will be in line with previous guidance with the insurance broking business continuing to show ‘clear signs of progress’ and the cruise operations continuing to perform well.
High-end housebuilder Crest Nicholson (CRST) improved 3.1% to 453.8p as the company delivered full year results showing a big drop in profits. However this was reassuringly in line with recent guidance and management also flagged good early progress in implementing Crest Nicholson’s updated strategy.
Retirement home developer and manager McCarthy & Stone (MCS) was marked up 1.8p to 155.7p, even as it booked a 25% fall in annual profit, citing a challenging market backdrop and strategic structural changes.
‘Our continued focus on margin expansion and cash generation against the backdrop of tough UK market conditions has more than doubled the group’s profits and halved the group’s leverage in 2019,’ enthused CEO John Hornby, who is also ‘confident that the actions we are taking to expand our profitability will contribute to another improved performance in 2020’.
Also in demand was LSL Property Services (LSL), the residential property services play bid up 7.6% to 312p after guiding towards slightly better than expected 2019 full year underlying operating profit.
Management regards this as ‘a highly resilient performance’ considering last year’s challenging residential market conditions, while LSL also flagged a ‘positive backdrop to the start of 2020’ thanks to increased political stability and a favourable LSL estate agency sales pipeline.
Independent gas, electricity and water supplier Yu Group (YU.AIM) rallied 26.7% to 142.5p as its full year trading update indicated a slight beat to forecasts as management attempts to place the company on a firm trajectory towards profitability.